LITTLE ROCK, Ark — We know. It’s a difficult time out there. So, we’re trying to help.
Sports everywhere seems to be at a standstill. But that doesn’t mean it can’t offer valuable lessons to us today, when we’re all striving for hope, strength, and resilience.
In a 5-week span before the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency, FOX16’s Nick Walters did three mini-documentaries. These 30 minutes of local sports stories have uplifted Arkansans in recent months, brightening days and inspiring many.
Whether you’re self-quarantining, social distancing, or just anxious given circumstances around the world — We hope these videos can lift your spirits, and prove that no hardship is unsurmountable.
AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Story of JT Towers
JT Towers is now an Arkansas Razorback. It’s an accomplishment he’s always dreamt of — And one that he overcame unthinkable odds to reach.
- Lost his brother Zack to brain trauma caused by a football injury in 2014.
- T-boned by a semi-truck in 2017. It left JT with forehead stitches, broken neck vertebrae, a broken rib, a hole in his lung, hand tendon laceration, a torn labrum, and coming fractions of an inch to sustaining brain damage.
- Then focused on playing quarterback, JT was forced to miss his sophomore season and relearn how to throw a football due to the wreck.
- After a breakout junior year despite his injuries, JT transferred to Joe T. Robinson High School and was converted to a linebacker.
- Without any college football offers as a senior, JT broke his toe in the season-opener. He returned only a few weeks later, playing in pain the rest of the year.
- Helped lead Joe T. Robinson to a first state championship win in 30 years. He secured an offer from his dream school, Arkansas, and committed only hours later.
(Air Date: January 26, 2020)
HOG DREAM: Chandler McIntosh’s Unthinkable Road to Arkansas
A newly-signed Razorback you maybe haven’t heard of: Chandler McIntosh, a preferred walk-on. His path to get here is truly one of a kind.
- Diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay in Speech as a toddler.
- Attended a school for the impaired until he began speaking years later than most children.
- Endured difficult financial circumstances through middle school, having his home’s lights go out at times and his father struggling to pay the bills.
- Told he “wasn’t SEC material” by a coach after not being invited to Arkansas Junior Day.
- Transferring to a new school with only one more year of eligibility, Chandler broke the Arkansas state record for single-season tackles and helped lead Joe T. Robinson to a state championship.
- Still short of meeting his “Hog Dream,” Chandler fell into a depressive state. He considered other career options, such as joining the military, before receiving a Preferred Walk-On offer from Arkansas days before National Signing Day. He accepted and cried tears of joy after signing.
(Air Date: February 15, 2020)
SPECIAL: Treat Unordinary as Extraordinary
Michael Joe Lanari has down-syndrome. But student-athletes at Joe T. Robinson decided that wouldn’t get in the way of forming of a unique bond. A story of acceptance leading to friendship, a kid being given confidence, and so-called “jocks” proving a stereotype wrong.
- While fighting through pneumonia, Michael Joe underwent open-heart surgery as an infant, nearly costing him his life.
- Growing up, Michael Joe faced fear of judgment growing up through a public school system.
- He remains behind other students at his school in quality of speech to this day.
- Putting himself out there, Michael Joe connected with student-athletes at his school beginning at lunch. Over time, he’s formed a friendship that has shined on-and-off fields.
- Having been an honorary team captain, Michael Joe remains close with football and baseball players at Robinson High. He’s even taking a former volleyball player to prom.
(Air Date: March 1, 2020)